I, as the conscious witness of my experience, no more initiate events in my prefrontal cortex than I cause my heart to beat. There will always been some delay between the first neurophysiological events that kindle my next conscious thought and the thought itself. And even if there weren’t–even if all mental states were truly coincident with their underlying brain states–I cannot decide what I will next think or intend until a thought or intention arises. What will my next mental state be? I do not know–it just happens.
Sam Harris, Free Will (Simon & Shuster 2012), 9.
Getting behind our conscious thoughts and feelings can allow us to steer a more intelligent course through our lives (while knowing, of course, that we are ultimately steered), ibid. 47.
But if he can’t get behind his prefrontal cortex, how can he grab the steering wheel away from his brain? Harris acts like the homunculus in the machine.
And why his he trying to convince everyone to embrace atheism? According to him, if I’m a Christian, I can’t sneak around to the back of my prefrontal cortex to initiate an impious brain state. What I consciously come to believe is the after effect of unconscious neurophysiological events.